Sales managers are responsible for overseeing the success of a company’s sales department. However, unless sales managers can cooperate with the production/service delivery teams, it will be difficult for sales to back up their promises and/or fulfill the customer’s needs.
Most sales teams know that a successful delivery strategy is essential in the modern era, even if accomplishing this goal is easier said than done. But, by leveraging our tips, your own customer research, and back-and-forth team communication, several delivery-related issues are solvable.
Why Sales and Delivery Managers Need to Communicate
In several small to medium-sized businesses, there’s an endless tug of war between production (those that deliver the product or service) and sales (those that make the promises and act as a bridge between the company and customer). There are several reasons why this may happen:
- The needs of the customer aren’t communicated across both teams.
- Sales teams are aware of their customer’s needs, but the delivery team does not have enough resources, experience, or information to accomplish these goals.
- Sales teams are unaware of the needs of their customers due to a lack of research.
- The delivery teams are willing, able, and knowledgeable in customer acquisition and/or retainment, but sales teams are unwilling or unable to listen to their requests.
Communication is the biggest issue facing both teams, and the problem falls downhill. If sales managers aren’t aware of what their customers want or they don’t communicate effectively with delivery teams, it’s impossible for delivery/product managers to do their job.
The gig economy can make this disconnect even worse in some cases. Remote teams may not have the means to discuss issues when they appear due to poor use of communication tools.
However, when both teams come together and communicate effectively, they can provide support to new and current partner customers through every step of the buyer’s journey.
How Sales and Marketing Solve Delivery-Related Issues
Besides attracting and onboarding new business, sales managers also represent the needs of the customer to the delivery/production team. For this reason, sales managers draft Service Level Agreements (SLA) that explain how their company fulfills the customer’s goals.
For example, a media sales manager working for a news media company sells advertising space that meets the customer’s needs. They must work closely with media strategists and the production/delivery department to ensure managers meet their advertising sales targets.
The media sales manager’s SLA would be delivering an adequate advertising solution that helps their customers sell to their audience, which is made possible through teamwork.
When sales managers and marketing teams know what sorts of products or services the production/delivery department can deliver and when two things happen:
- Current business is retained and prioritized: Unhappy customers will jump ship, but constantly acquiring new leads affects your bottom line. By monitoring, collaborating, and streamlining your sales teams, you’ll find and keep loyal customers.
- Sales and marketers can find new business opportunities. Once team members work together to ensure their business is profitable and their products/services are relevant, they can put more resources into acquiring new business opportunities.
Although communication is a significant reason why sales managers face delivery issues in the first place, the act of communicating itself won’t solve your problems. Sales managers must learn what to communicate to who and when if they want to keep their team on the right track.
Common Delivery Challenges Sales Managers Face
Sales managers have to re-evaluate their current strategy to maneuver around delivery issues. Here are ten common sales-specific delivery challenges and how your team can fix them.
1. Poor Visibility
All of your customers, regardless of whether they’re buying a physical or digital product or service, want to know how long it’ll take for their items to reach them. When your customers don’t know their current delivery status, they’ll tie up your phone/email asking about the project's whereabouts.
To solve this, promote tracking codes for physical products or a strict due date for digital. Offering your customers transparency and visibility will increase their satisfaction.
2. Outdated Technology
Sales can’t adequately perform their duties without analytics and other sales technology. In fact, visibility can be improved with courier tracking systems or CRM software. Communication tools, like Zoom and Slack, can help collaborate remote and in-office teams on customer projects.
3. High Delivery Costs
Free and/or expedited delivery can be expensive, and it’s common for businesses to add delivery staples just because everyone else is doing it. While these shipping/delivery staples are necessary, your business may start losing money if you don’t account for their high costs.
To solve this, sales managers should consult their production/delivery team to create an accurate budget to determine a solution, like upping your prices or adding a fulfillment center.
4. No Upselling Opportunities
Some customers will pay more for expedited delivery if they’ve upsold that option before buying a product or service. Instead of selling free or expedited delivery at cost, production/delivery teams can expand with this upselling tactic, thus increasing your customer acquisition rate.
5. Lack of Consensus
It’s better to tell the customer an uncomfortable truth than a comforting lie. If your customer finds out you’ve lied to them, even when you didn’t mean to do so, you’ll have a hard time gaining their trust back. Don’t promise anything you’re unsure your team will be able to keep.
To solve this, create a consensus about what you can and cannot agree on based on what your delivery/production team says, or ask your team if they can accept a job before you agree to it.
6. Finger Pointing
Finger-pointing affects communication.
If production/delivery teams know they’ll be reprimanded regardless of how they handled a problem, they’re more likely to stop speaking to sales. Sales managers must tackle issues professionally, proactively, and positively to keep morale high.
7. Information Blackout
Sales managers need to communicate with their production/delivery teams at all times to ensure a project is moving per schedule. We already determined that your customers will ask for project/delivery updates, but if you come up empty-handed, you’ll appear unprofessional.
To solve this, schedule regular meetings, encourage open communication and create a document and/or Slack channel where all teams can post regular production/delivery updates.
8. Late Deliveries
Sales have to coordinate with production/delivery teams to inform customers immediately when problems occur and fix them accordingly. If late deliveries are a constant problem, you may need to hire more staff, review project due dates, or hire a different courier company.
9. Neglected Relationships
Although networking and selling to new customers is essential, customer acquisition can cost 5x more than retainment. Neglected relationships can cost a company big time, as loyal customers are 5x more likely to purchase and forgive and 4x more likely to refer.
To solve this, sales managers need to communicate with all departments, including production/delivery teams, to ensure they can continue to foster customer loyalty.
10. Unpredictable Elements
Bad weather, vehicle issues, and staff shortages are out of your control, but you can control how others perceive the company. Fostering positive relationships with your customers is half the battle, but to reach the finish line, sales managers must resolve the problem immediately.
For example, sales managers can offer discounts or an alternative delivery method to compensate the customer for their trouble. A quick response shows you care.
Sales Managers and Happy Customers Go Hand in Hand
Sales managers play a significant role in customer satisfaction, but if your team is out of the loop, you won’t be able to deliver your projects on time or in an appropriate manner. In fact, it will be nearly impossible for sales teams to attract new customers without a lot of teamwork.
The stereotypical tug-of-war battle between teams isn’t productive nor beneficial. Creating a strong bridge between departments will allow everyone to work together towards the same goal.
With the help of product/delivery teams, sales managers won’t just ensure their current customers' needs are met, but they’ll also attract new buyers and grow their company.